Teacher Appreciation Week Spotlight: Lorenz Willis mentors, inspires, and refines student aspirations

By Eduardo Landa, Staff Writer, Class of 2020

For Teacher Appreciation Week, I would like to recognize Mr. Lorenz Willis, CWSP Program Manager.  In my junior and senior years,  he was a great mentor to me and taught me valuable life lessons.

On some late afternoons in these past two years, I went to ask Mr. Willis questions and to share the hardships I was facing in my life.

Thanks to Mr. Willis, I was able to visit a branch of the Google technology company located near the residential neighborhoods of Venice. As we drove to Google in the van, I remember talking to Mr. Willis about myriad topics such as the NBA (National Basketball Association), the barbering industry, other different careers I might pursue, and the value of networking.

My most memorable moment from the trip was a question Mr. Willis asked me.

“If you could have anything in the world, what would it be?”

I was caught off guard by the question, but I took the time to really think about it.

“I want to own 20 barbershops.”

He looked at me squarely in the eye and asked,  “Why only 20?”

I was confused as to why he emphasized the number 20. Shortly thereafter, he asked two follow-up questions.

“Why not own 50 or 100, or why not own all the barbershops in the world?”

This formative experience taught me that, in life, we have to think big. Big ideas and big dreams are attainable. I learned that just because the system wasn’t built for me particularly to succeed and thrive, that doesn’t mean I cannot attain my aspirations. I learned to seek beyond the known and to always believe that I can always accomplish more in life.

I thank Mr. Willis for all he has done to inspire me and my Verb brothers. He has taught us to be the catalyst for change in our communities, he pushes us to do things the right way, and he is a true representation of the Verb motto, “a man with and for others.”

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